Study Guide

The Orphan Master's Son Part 1, Pages 124-143

By Adam Johnson

Part 1, Pages 124-143

  • Jun Do, Dr. Song, Comrade Buc, and company land in Russian territory to refuel. Russian pilots can't believe the old hunk o' junk these guys still flying around in.
  • Dr. Song and Comrade Buc turn the conversation around, telling the Russians that it's a pity they don't have the know-how to make such "good" planes anymore.
  • Dr. Song also conveys his disappointment that Russia has moved away from good old-fashioned communism—now, only North Korea is a model society in that respect.
  • As they fly over the Pacific, Jun Do finally understands what the Captain had said about the size and depth of the ocean. It makes him think of the strength and courage of the rowers.
  • Somehow, the vastness of the sea makes Jun Do think about all the things that have gone missing: his dictionaries, the Captain's brush, his tunnel team, his kidnap victims.
  • Dr. Song briefs the crew on behavior and expectations in America. Among the highlights: how to behave among gay people, how not to assault women who smoke, how to treat dogs properly.
  • Comrade Buc pulls Jun Do aside and tells him that Dr. Song is somehow in hot water with the North Korean government, and he desperately needs this project to be a success.
  • Jun Do learns that Buc's mission is to go to Los Angeles and buy $300,000 worth of DVDs in 24 hours. He asks Jun Do if there's any specific movie he would want. Jun Do has no clue.
  • Comrade Buc promises to bring him a copy of Casablanca, because people say it's the greatest movie of all time.
  • The crew lands in Texas and is greeted by a Senator, his close friend Tommy, and a woman called Wanda.
  • The American delegation drives the North Koreans to a Western clothing shop and has them try on cowboy boots. They mean to buy each of the North Koreans a pair as a gift.
  • On the way, the Senator tells Jun Do and Dr. Song—who are sitting in the back seat of his vintage Mustang—that he had sex for the first time in that back seat. Dr. Song is appalled.
  • At the boot shop, Jun Do, Dr. Song and the Minister (who is really Dr. Song's driver), try on boots. The Minister is really into it—he's seen a lot of old westerns.
  • Dr. Song objects to accepting the boots as gifts, since the Dear Leader wouldn't have a pair. The Senator offers to buy the DL a pair just like Dr. Song's, since they are the same size.
  • But Dr. Song is appalled at the idea that he and the DL should be treated equally, so they all leave without the boots.
  • The group heads to the Senator's ranch for an official visit and talks. We learn that Wanda is in security and works as a civilian contractor for the U.S. government. She wears a Blackwater hat.
  • The Senator has set up some typical Texas ranch-style activities to amuse the North Koreans. These include cutting brush with a saw and a weed-whacker. Dr. Song is not amused.
  • They all go fishing, and the Minister gets a little over-excited when he catches a fish.
  • Wanda strikes up conversation with Jun Do, and when she gives him a little flashlight as a gift, she finds out he's done "tunnel work." She herself is a "bunker specialist."
  • Jun Do is amazed to hear of the technology the U.S. has to make tunnel combat easier—including using robots instead of humans.
  • Wanda tells Jun Do that she had an uncle who conducted old-school tunnel combat in Vietnam.
  • The Senator takes everyone to shoot with Smith and Wesson pistols. Dr. Song declines this as well, but the Minister is in his element—he's a really good shot.
  • The first thing that Jun Do notices about the Senator's house is the dogs and how well trained they are. He notes that in America, you get dogs to perform with treats. In DPRK, you get them to perform with threats.
  • The North Koreans are treated to a big BBQ, and Jun Do can't get enough of the ribs. Wanda joins him at his picnic table and tells him about all the people who are sitting around them.
  • Wanda tells Jun Do that he can ask her anything, and she'll answer him. He seems to be watching Tommy, who is black, and he notices Wanda watching him.
  • Jun Do tells her this is not the first time he's seen a black person. There was that encounter with the U.S. Navy, and his English teacher was from Angola.
  • Wanda tells Jun Do that although she doesn't speak Korean, she could tell that Jun Do was fudging the translations earlier in order to smooth things between the two sides.
  • At another table, Dr. Song presents the Senator with the 11-volume Selected Works of Kim Jong Il. The Senator gives the Minister an iPod with country music on it.
  • Then the Minister brings out the tiger. Jun Do knows that this is the breaking point of the talks. The tiger meat is going to freak out the Americans.
  • Jun Do decides this is the moment to take Wanda up on answering questions. He writes the name of the Second Mate across her palm and tells her he wants to know what happened to his friend.
  • Wanda takes a picture of her hand and sends a message to find out.
  • And then the tiger meat is presented. Dr. Song tells the Senator that he will take on the qualities of a tiger when he eats the meat—and then he presents the meat to the Senator's wife.
  • The Senator steps in and takes the meat off to the kitchen. Dr. Song is disappointed not to get a better reaction.
  • Dr. Song tries another tack: he approaches Jun Do and asks how his arm is doing. Cue shark story.
  • But again, the Americans take over. The Senator's wife had been a medical doctor. She takes Jun Do off to the kitchen to remove his overdue sutures.
  • In the kitchen, Jun Do strips off his shirt, and the Senator's wife scrubs up. The maid, Pilar, comes in and is introduced. She quips that Jun Do's name sounds like "John Doe"—a missing person. Then she notices the cooler of tiger meat, which looks like the type of cooler used to transport organs.
  • The Senator's wife corrects Pilar: "John Doe" isn't a missing person. It's a person whose identity is a mystery.
  • Jun Do tells the Senator's wife that he's never seen a real doctor in his life. She examines his torso and arms and sees the marks of torture and abuse everywhere. She asks how he got the bites.
  • Jun Do begins to tell the shark attack story while the doctor and Wanda remove his stitches.
  • Pilar asks about Jun Do's tattoo, and he says it's of his wife. Wanda takes a picture of it.
  • The Senator's wife tells Jun Do he needs a souvenir to take back to his wife and asks what she's like. Jun Do tells her that she is needy and sad, and that she married a real jerk. TMI.
  • The Senator's wife is touched and asks if she can call Sun Moon and offer her support. She has no clue. Wanda tells her that things aren't like that in North Korea: you just can't pick up a phone.
  • Jun Do sees a picture of the Senator in an astronaut's uniform and asks the wife if he'd been in space. Then he asks about the International Space Station: is it really all about peace?
  • The Senator's wife says yes—and then gives Jun Do packs of antibiotics to prevent infection.
  • Pilar deals with the tiger meat, which smells horrible. Jun Do tells them to throw it out and cook a flank steak instead because it tastes the same.
  • Pilar takes his advice and says she'll make tiger tacos.